Monday, April 23, 2012

Life as a Church Musician

I go to church. I go to the UCC, First Congregational Church in Norwich, NY. I am a church musician.

Now under normal circumstances, that last statement would preclude that I am either the organist or the choir director or both. I am neither.

My position is Music Ministry Associate.

Being an Associate always reminds me of Wal*Mart because all their employee name tags say “associate” on them. I don’t have a name tag…what am I talking about? I don’t even have a blue vest! So what is this oddball position?

At UCC, First Congregational Church, we have an extremely talented and knowledgeable choir director, an outrageously talented organist, and a wonderfully gifted bell choir director. This photo shows us all with Pastor Joe.

So what I get to do is all the things that these three don’t have the time or energy to do. And believe me, as far as I’m concerned, that’s all the fun stuff.

Briefly, I get to write and arrange a lot of music, play the guitar as solo and accompaniment, preview all the choir music, work with the web site, do music outreach to other churches, and substitute for singers in the choir and sometimes for the bells too. Along the way, I have also completely refurbished the music office, weeded the music collection, and purchased some new instruments for the church, and done quite a bit of recording.

If that weren’t enough, I have written a Christmas cantata (The Child) with Pastor Joe Connolly, and we are planning on writing an Easter cantata for 2013.

And if THAT weren’t enough, I created a church music seminar called “Water from the Well” to which we invite well known church composers from all over the country to come and work with us.

I was offered this position back in 2007 and was given the opportunity to write my own job description. How many times does something like that ever happen?

And now it’s ending, and I am sure of two things:

1- It has been a great ride.

2- This situation is probably never going to be duplicated.

As relocation for my wife and I becomes a reality, I will be looking around for another church position, which (I’m sure) will be vastly different than this one, and (I’m equally sure) just as rewarding.

Note: I will be releasing a new vocal CD in a couple weeks. I will post an update on that here sometime in early May. In the meantime, I’ll remind you that my music is available through Amazon, CDBaby, Rhapsody, iTunes, Spotify and dozens of other outlets. You can usually find them by typing “Tom Rasely” into the search bar of any of those sites. Plus, there are 10 videos at Tom's Youtube